Freddy the Pilot

Freddy the Pilot


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590208670
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Publication date: 11/08/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 9 - 18 Years

About the Author

Walter R. Brookswas born in Rome, New York on January 9, 1886, and died in Roxbury, New York on August 17, 1958. Brooks attended the University of Rochester and, after graduation, worked for the American Red Cross and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. He became associate editor of Outlook in 1928 and subsequently was a staff writer for several magazines, including The New Yorker. The short stories he began writing at this time were published in The Saturday Evening Post, Atlantic Monthly, and Esquire. Brooks's short story "Ed Takes the Pledge" was the basis for the 1950s television series Mr. Ed, but his most lasting achievement is the Freddy the Pig series, which began in 1928 with To and Again (Freddy Goes to Florida). He subsequently wrote twenty-five more delightful books starring "that charming ingenious pig" (The New York Times), all of which are now available from The Overlook Press.

Kurt Wiese (1887-1974) illustrated over 300 children’s book and wrote and illustrated another 20 books. He received two Newbery Awards and two Caldecott Honor Book Awards.

Read an Excerpt

Freddy the Pilot

By Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese

The Overlook Press

Copyright © 1952 Walter R. Brooks
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-9226-8


Freddy, the pig, was lying on his stomach in the grass beside the duck pond reading a book. It was a hot day and the grass was cool—at least it was cool for about the length of time it took him to read two pages. By that time he would have warmed it up and would have to shift to a fresh spot. So every time he turned a leaf he rolled over once.

He had rolled in this manner about halfway around the pond and about halfway through his story, when a shadow fell across the page and a voice said: "Hi, Freddy. Got any comics to trade?"

Freddy didn't look up. "Begone! Get thee hence!" he said and went on reading.

"Get what?" said the voice. "What you talking about?"

"Oh, gosh!" said Freddy disgustedly, and he closed the book, keeping his finger in the place, and looked up to see Sniffy Wilson, the skunk, sitting beside him. "Oh, it's you, Sniffy," he said. "Well, this book is the story of Robin Hood, and 'Get thee hence,'—well, that's the way they used to talk in his times, hundreds of years ago. It means 'Go away.'"

"Well, why wouldn't they say what they mean?" Sniffy asked. "That's the trouble with books: you have to think what they mean all the time."

Freddy grinned at him. "Yeah," he said. "It's tough trying to think if you haven't anything to think with."

"Oh, is that so!" retorted the skunk. "Well, I guess I've got just as much brain as you have! Golly, all I did is ask you if you had some comics to trade—"

"Comics!" Freddy interrupted. "Baby stuff! No self-respecting animal over two years old looks at that trash. Oh, go away and quit bothering me. Take your hollow head somewhere else."

From over the edge of the bank, down by the water, came a little flat giggle. Freddy knew that giggle. It belonged to Uncle Wesley, a plump and pompous duck who, with his two nieces, lived beside the pond. Freddy knew, too, that Uncle Wesley never giggled at an ordinary joke; the only thing that amused the duck was when somebody said something mean or sarcastic. And he didn't want to say mean things to Sniffy, who was a good friend.

So before the skunk could answer, he said, "I beg your pardon, Sniffy. I don't really mean that, of course. It's just that I think these comics are foolish. I don't see how anybody can look at them when there are so many books around that are more interesting."

"Yeah?" said Sniffy grumpily. "Such as that old thing you're reading, I suppose!"

Freddy didn't answer directly. "This Robin Hood was quite a guy," he said. "He was an outlaw and he hid out in Sherwood forest with his band of men. They'd send out soldiers to catch him but he'd play some trick on them and get away. And he'd disguise himself and go to a fair and walk off with the prize for shooting right under the sheriff's nose. Or he'd take on all comers at a bout with quarterstaves."

"With what?" Sniffy asked.

"Before they had boxing matches, they used to fight with them," Freddy said. "A quarterstaff was a good stout stick about eight feet long. You held it in the middle, and you could rap with either end. And when the other fellow swung at you, you had to parry,—catch his blows on the end or the middle of your stick. It was awful fast fighting. The sticks would rattle together for a few seconds, and then pop! somebody would get it on the arm or the head. Look, here's a picture—Robin and the sheriff's cook. Robin licked him, and then he joined the band."

Sniffy was poring over the picture when Freddy raised his head. "What's that—thunder?" he asked.

"He's got a sword on," said Sniffy. "Why didn't they fight with swords?"

Freddy didn't answer. He was listening to the sound, which at first hardly more than a vibration of the air, now came more clearly. It was too regular for thunder.

"Would you let me take this book, Freddy?" Sniffy asked.

"The book? Sure, take it along, I've read it three or four times," said Freddy. "I'm just wondering if that sound is what I think it is."

Sniffy listened for a second. "Sounds like guns," he said. "Maybe there's a battle. Maybe the Martians have landed!"

"Oh, golly, you and your comics!" said Freddy. "Hey, Wesley," he called, going to the edge of the bank. "Tell Alice and Emma to come down to the gate. I think we've got important company." And he turned and ran down towards the barnyard.

Some of the other animals had heard that sound too, and they were trooping out of the gate into the road. Nothing could be seen yet, but the regular boom, boom of a drum could now be heard, and then way off down the road something was moving, there were spots of color, and all at once a brass band broke into the old familiar marching song.

Red and gold wagons are coming down the street,
With a Boomschmidt, Boomschmidt, boom, boom, boom! ...

"It's the circus!" Mrs. Bean had come out on the front porch. "Come out here, Mr. B. It's Mr. Boomschmidt's circus!"

Always when the circus came to Centerboro, it made a special detour to parade up the road past the Bean farm, where Mr. Boomschmidt and his animals had so many good friends. It always marched in the same order. First, in a loud checked suit and a silk hat—Mr. Boomschmidt himself on his horse, Rod. Then Mr. Boomschmidt's personal car—a large red limousine, trimmed with gold, and with a B in gold, surmounted by a crown, on the door panels. In the car rode Mr. Boomschmidt's mother, and Madame Delphine, the fortune teller. Beside it rode Mademoiselle Rose, the bareback rider (or "equestrienne" as they called her on the posters), on Dexter, her trick horse. Then came the big bandwagon, and then all the animals, two by two, with Bill Wonks and the other circus men riding on the elephants and camels.

The wagons followed along behind, because Mr. Boomschmidt didn't believe in keeping his animals locked up. The animals just used the cages to sleep in. In towns that they'd never visited before, people were quite surprised to see tigers and wolves and hyenas and rhinoceroses walking along in the procession, and some of the more timid were scared. But as a matter of fact the animals were usually a lot better behaved than the onlookers, who sometimes threw pop bottles at the rhinoceros, or poked the lion with umbrellas to see if he'd roar.

The parade marched right in the Bean gate and twice around the barnyard, and then Mr. Boomschmidt took his silk hat and waved it and the band stopped playing, and then he waved the hat again and led the whole circus in the chorus of their marching song. The farm animals knew it, and they all joined in.

BOOM—be quick! Buy a ticket at the wicket.

BOOM—get your pink lemonade; get your gum.

BOOM—get your peanuts, popcorn, lollipops.

BOOM—Mr. Boom—Mr. Boomschmidt's come!

After that Mr. Boomschmidt led the circus in three cheers for the Bean farm, and Mr. Bean led his animals in three cheers for the circus, and then the two groups rushed at each other and shook hands and paws and slapped backs, and there was a general uproar and rejoicing.

"You're up this way a little earlier than usual, aren't you, Mr. Boom?" Mrs. Bean asked.

"Yes, we usually don't hit York State till August," Mr. Boomschmidt said. "But we ran into a little trouble on our way north—my gracious, trouble isn't the word for it!" He paused and looked thoughtful. "I wonder what the word for it is? Leo, what would the word for it be? Leo—Oh, my goodness, where are you, Leo?"

Leo, the lion, was just greeting his old friend, Freddy. He turned towards his employer. "Word for what, chief?"

"What we're in. I said trouble wasn't the word for it, but I don't know what the word for it is."

"Dilemma," said the lion. "That's what you said last night we were in—a dilemma."

"Gracious!" said Mr. Boomschmidt. "Sounds awful, doesn't it? What's it mean?"

"It's your word, not mine," said Leo.

Mr. Bean took the pipe out of his mouth. "Same as a quandary," he said, and put the pipe back.

"A quandary," said Mr. Boomschmidt thoughtfully. "Ah yes, quite right—a quandary. Well, Leo ..."

"It's a bird, I think, chief," said the lion. "Kind of a cross between a swan and a cassowary. Lives in Africa. My Uncle Ajax used to tell me stories about the flocks of wild quandaries on Lake Nyassa—"

Mr. Bean took his pipe out again. "When there's several things you can do, but they're all likely to turn out badly, and you can't decide—you're in a dilemma. You're also in a quandary." He put the pipe back.

Even Mrs. Bean was startled at this display of learning. Mr. Boomschmidt was delighted. "That's it!" he exclaimed. "That's why we're here. We're in a dilemma and a quandary both, and we need an awful good detective to get us out of 'em."

"Well now," said Mrs. Bean, "If you and your mother and Madame Delphine will come in and have a cup of tea—and maybe, Mr. B.," she said to her husband, "you can scratch up some refreshments for these animals." She looked rather doubtfully at the elephants and the tigers and the camels and the rhinoceros, but Mr. Boomschmidt said: "That's awful kind of you, ma'am, but we can't stop now. Have to get over to Centerboro and get the tents up before dark. Perhaps we can come to tea after tomorrow's show."

"If there is a show," Rod muttered.

"Oh, don't be so gloomy," said Mr. Boomschmidt. "My gracious, just because we're in a dilemma now doesn't mean we have to stay in it till next Christmas. Does it, Leo? Goodness, don't just stand there, Leo. Say something cheerful."

"You say it, chief," said Leo. "I'm fresh out of cheerfulness. By next Christmas I'll probably be living in the Old Lions' Home."

"Oh, I guess things won't be as bad as that," said Mrs. Bean. "This dilemma you spoke of—"

"It's a snorter," said Mr. Boomschmidt. "Oh, my goodness, I should say so! Yes ma'am, if you want to see a first class, high-powered dilemma in action, you come to tomorrow's show. And you come too, Freddy—you and your partner, Mrs. Wiggins. I've got to have the best detective talent in the country on this thing. That's why we've come straight up to Centerboro. I hope you're free to take a big case?"

The detective firm of Frederick & Wiggins was well and favorably known throughout the entire state. They were a splendid team. Freddy supplied the ideas and Mrs. Wiggins, the cow, supplied the common sense, without which ideas aren't much good. And they had worked for Mr. Boomschmidt before; he knew that he was getting the best talent that money could buy.

"You turn your dilemma over to us," Freddy said. "We'll drop everything else and go right at it."

So it was settled that all the Bean animals would come to the show the following afternoon. Mr. Boomschmidt pulled a pack of tickets out of his pocket and gave one to every animal in the barnyard. And then the parade formed up again and marched off down the road.

Freddy walked over to the cow barn with Mrs. Wiggins.

"Why did you say we'd drop everything else to work on his case, Freddy?" the cow asked. "You know we haven't had a job in the last six weeks."

"Sounds better," said the pig. "And Mr. Boom's an old friend; if we did have any other job we'd drop it, wouldn't we?"

"Land sakes, of course we would. But how can we drop—"

"O.K., O.K.," Freddy interrupted. "So if we've got to drop something, we'll drop all the cases we haven't got. Does that suit you?"

"Sometimes I just don't know what you're talking about," said Mrs. Wiggins.


Boomschmidt's Stupendous and Unexcelled Circus (formerly Boomschmidt's Colossal and Unparalleled Circus) was a little different from most small circuses. For almost all the performers were animals. Mr. Boomschmidt had been smart enough to realize that monkeys can do much more startling feats on trapezes than even the most skillful acrobats can, and that a small rabbit putting lions and tigers through their tricks seems much more daring than a regular lion tamer. His clowns weren't men; they were pandas and kangaroos. And nearly all the circus work—putting up the tents and so on—was done by animals too. Two of the elephants could even swing sledge hammers in their trunks, to drive the pegs to which the tents' guy ropes were fastened.

The only performer who was not an animal was Mademoiselle Rose. People sometimes asked Mr. Boomschmidt why, in an all-animal show, he kept her on. Couldn't he train an animal to do bareback stunts? Mr. Boomschmidt said yes, of course he could, but at least a third of the people who came to his shows came to see Mademoiselle Rose. This was certainly true. Every circus has bareback riders, but Mademoiselle Rose was so pretty, and she did the most daring feats so easily and gracefully, that she was one of the most popular figures in the whole country. And while there are plenty of riders who can stand on their heads on the back of a galloping horse, you can count on the fingers of one hand those who can do it on the back of a galloping rhinoceros. But Mademoiselle Rose did it, at every performance.

Mr. Boomschmidt knew of course that Mademoiselle Rose would not always be with the circus. Some day she would marry one of her many admirers, and the Stupendous and Unexcelled Circus would not be as stupendous and unexcelled as it had been. Not by a good deal. On that day his audiences would be only about half as big as they were today. He hated to think of it. And so, very sensibly, he didn't.

Until Mr. Watson P. Condiment began paying court to Mademoiselle Rose. Then he had to think of it.

Not that Mademoiselle Rose had any intention of marrying Mr. Condiment. She didn't want to live in any of his six big houses, or ride in any of his fifteen big cars, or sail across the ocean in his big yacht. She didn't like Mr. Condiment. Even when he got down on his knees and said: "Please marry me," she just said: "No thank you. Please go away." For she was always polite, even to people she didn't like. And Mr. Condiment would go. But he always came back in a little while.

Mr. Condiment was a tall thin man who always looked as if he had a stomach ache. That was because he did have a stomach ache. He also had a great deal of money. If people didn't do what he wanted them to he got mad and blustered. But he didn't bluster at Mademoiselle Rose because when he started to, she just turned her back and walked away. He blustered at Mr. Boomschmidt, though. For he had tried to buy the circus, and when Mr. Boomschmidt refused to sell, he got mad. He had figured that if he owned the circus, he would fire Mademoiselle Rose and her mother, Madame Delphine, and then Mademoiselle Rose wouldn't have any money to live on and would have to marry him. But although he offered enormous sums, Mr. Boomschmidt said no. "Very well," Mr. Condiment had said. "You wait. You just wait."

Freddy, of course, hadn't been told anything about this when he and his friends walked down to the Centerboro Fair Grounds that afternoon to see the show. Led by Mr. and Mrs. Bean, the animals had marched in through the gate and into the big tent, where they had been shown to seats in the front row by the usher, a young alligator named Leslie. "I thought I'd come and sit with you when the show begins," he said to them, "but the boss wants me to stay on the job in case there's a panic in the audience."

"Land sakes, I do hope there won't be anything like that!" said Mrs. Bean.

"Tain't likely, Mrs. B.," said her husband. He looked after Leslie, who had hurried away without explaining. "Tryin' to be funny, I expect, the smart aleck—by cracky," he said. "I bet that's where the name came from."

"What name, Mr. B.?"

"Smart aleck. Short for 'smart alligator!'" And he made the fizzing sound behind his whiskers that was the only way you could tell when he was laughing.

But the ducks, Alice and Emma, who were sitting between Freddy and Jinx, the black cat, began looking around nervously. "Oh, sister," said Emma, "I do wish we'd taken dear Uncle Wesley's advice and stayed home. If there's a panic—"

"Dear me," said Alice. "I should think it might be interesting. I've never been at a panic."

Jinx looked around and grinned at them. "There's no call to be upset, girls," he said. "Panics are lots of fun. My old dad used to take us kittens to every panic that was held within a radius of ten miles. I guess he'd still be attending 'em if he hadn't tried to attend two in one evening. Kind of overestimated his staying power."


Excerpted from Freddy the Pilot by Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese. Copyright © 1952 Walter R. Brooks. Excerpted by permission of The Overlook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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